“Whole”, the definition of this simple word is all of, entire, in one piece, or in an original unbroken state. Therefore, whole grain means “made with or containing whole unprocessed grain”. Healthcare professionals including nutrition experts have been preaching for years about choosing whole grains in your diet than refined grains. Whole grains are a complete package of health benefits whereas in the case of refined grains at times some important nutrients are stripped off in the process of refining, polishing etc. As per guidelines, one should consume six ounces of grains every day and half of those should be whole grains.

Why is it essential to eat whole grains?

Why are whole grains so much helpful for you? Foods which are made up from whole grains contain all essential components and naturally occurring nutrients of the grain seed itself in their original proportions. That simply means we are getting 100% of original kernel, that is all of the bran endosperm and germ. Unlike refined grains, which peel away the outer layer germ and bran in the process of refining, whole grains holds all the important natural nutrition such as brown rice, wheat, oats, barley etc.
These whole grain kernels are divided in three parts bran, germ, and endosperm. Each part is filled with health-promoting nutrients.

  • The bran is the outer layer which is fiber-rich and provides iron, zinc, vitamin B antioxidant, phytochemicals, and magnesium. Phytochemicals have an important role in disease prevention because these are natural chemical compounds in plants.
  • The core part of the grain is germ where growth occurs and it is rich in vitamin E, healthy fats, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
  • The endosperm which is interior part and rich in proteins, carbohydrates and small amount of minerals and vitamin B.

Each part has different important effects on our body:

  1. Fiber and bran slow the breakdown of starch into glucose which maintains steady blood glucose instead causes sharp spikes.
  2. Fibers can help to prevent the formation of blood clots that can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  3. Fibers decrease the cholesterol level and help to move the waste through the digestive tract.
  4. Phytochemicals and some essential nutrients such as selenium, copper, and magnesium which are present in the whole grains may protect against cancers.

Whole grains and benefits with diseases:

As studies and researches are trying to look more closely at carbohydrates and health, they are concluding that the quality of carbohydrates you consume is as important as quantity.

  1. As per researches people who consume at least 2 or more servings of whole grain each day are 30% less likely to have died from infectious and inflammation-related diseases compared to people who rarely or never eat whole grains.
  2. Researches also showed that people who consume 70gm of whole grain each day have 23% of the lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, 20% lower risk of cancer mortality and 22% lower the risk of total mortality.
  3. Type 2 diabetes: The nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals in whole grains enhance glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity and slow down the absorption of food which prevents blood sugar spikes. Replacement of refined grains with whole grains and consuming at least two serving of whole grains each day may help to decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Because refined grains have high glycemic index and less fiber and nutrients.
  4. Digestive health: Fiber in whole grains help to prevent aggravating problems and constipation. It also helps to prevent diverticulosis by reducing pressure in the intestines.
  5. Cardiovascular disease: Eating whole grains instead of refined, considerably lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides and (LDL) low-density lipoprotein (aka bad cholesterol).
  6. Cancer: Some studies proved eating whole grains help to protect against colorectal cancer and reduces the risk by 21%.

Make some changes in your daily routine for better health. You can reach the recommendations pretty easily.

Simple ways to introduce more whole grains to your diet:

  1. Choose whole grain ready to eat cereals for breakfast or steel cut oats.
  2. Choose 100% whole wheat bread to make your lunchtime sandwich
  3. Use whole grain crackers as a snack
  4. Instead of refined grain pasta or white rice, you can choose wild rice or brown rice which is whole grains or whole wheat pasta. Try to add more delicious whole grain like barley, millet, farro etc.

Sometimes people eat refined cereals with skim milk for breakfast, in that case your blood sugar is destined to crash after a few hours. This would make you feel hungrier and ultimately you end up eating more for lunch. Instead you can aim for a carbohydrate to fiber ratio of 10:1. Oatmeal and cheerios achieve this ratio. But some time instant oat meals can contain lot of sugar therefore be cautious.

Are you getting enough whole grains?

Sometimes studies show different definitions of “serving” for whole grains which makes people more confusing to keep track of how much of whole grain we are actually getting. 100% whole grain stamp is one common guide which classifies that the product contains 16 gm of whole grain per serving.
But these product stamp also contain lot of calories and sugar than other choices. Therefore, better guide is to look for product that shows, at least 1 gm of fiber for every 10 gm of carbohydrates, per serving that’s 10:1 ratio. Let’s look at an example – if serving has 60 grams of total carbs it should have at least 6 grams of fiber.

Sometime recommendations usually define a single serving of whole grain such as:

  • ½ cup of cooked hot cereal, whole grains pasta or brown rice
  • 1 slice of 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 small 100% whole grain muffin etc.
    Some people suffer with celiac disease and are wondering what to choose, they can eat gluten free whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millets, amaranth, buckwheat and wild rice.

So, what are you waiting for, go get a nice munch of your choice of whole grains. 

Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy & Keep Smiling! 😊

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